Leadership Qualities for Entrepreneurs
The skills to be a successful entrepreneur aren’t quite the same as the skills needed to make a good manager. Leadership qualities for entrepreneurs is something special.
Entrepreneurs not only create something that never existed before, they have the ability to get others to recognize their vision and follow them into an unknown future. It’s a specific skill set, but one you can improve upon with practice.
Leadership for entrepreneurs takes the following qualities to be successful.
Be a Visionary
Visionaries look toward the future. Yes, you have to handle today’s business, but you always need to have one eye
focused on tomorrow.
Your business vision should do four things:
- Include projections for one to three years
- Define where you want your business to be
- Define who you want your business to serve
- Define how you will execute your plan
Number four requires you to develop an action plan and strategies that help you reach your goal and keep you on the track to success.
This serves the further purpose of helping you articulate your vision to others, which is vital once you’re ready to expand your team. You want it full of people who understand your vision and strive to help reach it.
Attract the Best People
Entrepreneurs must have the power to attract the best people, from investors to employees to clients. You need the confidence and ability to share your vision to attract your followers.
Wait, confidence to hire people? You bet. It takes smart, confident leaders to know they need to surround themselves with great people. The best leaders know that bringing on the best is one of the most important steps in launching a startup. This means building a team with complementary skills as well as like-minded goals and values.
When it comes to articulating your vision, you need stellar communication skills. You want to banish ambiguity and generalizations. No wimp language; be clear and concise to make sure people understand your vision and goals. To do otherwise causes confusion, misunderstandings, and even subpar work efforts from your team.
Once you clarify your vision, help others identify their goals and give them the resources to do so. Encourage communication among staff and maintain an open door policy.
When mistakes happen (not if), analyze what went wrong instead of jumping right into punishment mode. A single tweak may lead to success, or maybe your team was on the wrong path and needs to redirect. However, it’s a good thing if you have employees taking measured, calculated risks. Unfortunately, the nature of risk demands that some will fail. The point is to encourage them to analyze the outcome to discover a better way, and the best way to do that is to model that behavior for them.
Motivate Your People
If you hired the right people, they already have enough self-motivation for two average employees each. That doesn’t mean you can’t offer even more motivation, though. You want to cultivate a company culture and atmosphere of motivation, productivity, and general job satisfaction.
Start by asking for opinions instead of always sharing your own. Then, give positive feedback on those opinions.
When people come to you with issues, ask them to offer their own solutions before providing yours. Talk about their solution, including ideas on implementation. Hash it out, including paths toward success. You want employees to take considered risks, and this is a good opening for that.
Challenge your employees to answer questions you don’t know the answer to. The end goal is challenging your team overall, and creating an environment where they challenge themselves. If you aren’t striving to be better, you’re stagnating.
Cultivate a workplace that promotes creativity and innovation and you’ll find your employees responding to it.
The Bottom Line
Many of these leadership skills and traits are innate in entrepreneurs, but still require honing to maintain their edge. Even if you weren’t born with some of them, you can acquire them with focused effort. Let’s face it; if you’re willing to withstand the challenges of being an entrepreneur, you have what it takes to buck up your leadership skills.